I am writing this post as a result of an incident that occurred at my favorite fast food restaurant last week. A man went ballistic over something a female employee did. (Notice I didn’t say she made a mistake, because she actually did not). His verbal abuse has been permanently dealt with.
The following are some tips to remember next time you eat out. I am basing this list both on my 11 months experience in the fast food industry and common sense.
Remember that the employees are human beings. As human beings, they are deserving of your respect. Working in a restaurant is not the most glamorous job, nor is it worth $15 an hour, but that does not detract from the employees worth. It certainly does not make them beneath you. I have seen and experienced behavior that the customer thought was sly or funny, but in reality was just rude. Remember that employees have feelings just like you do.
Remember that no matter what the situation is, you never have the right to make an employee cry, ever. Ever. EVER.
Remember that the employees want to get your order right. We want you to have an enjoyable experience and the delicious food that you are craving. Our goal is to make you happy.
Remember that the employees are not perfect. They will make mistakes just like you do. If something is wrong, say so. We want to fix it. There is no need (or excuse) for yelling, screaming, or cursing. Or making young girls cry.
Remember that most, although certainly not all, fast food employees are young. They are high school or college students. They’re just trying to earn money to pay their tuition, buy a car, study abroad, or just pocket change so they don’t have to ask their parents. Think about how you would want your little sibling, child, niece/nephew, etc. treated. In the incident last week the girl is still a minor. If yelling at and making a young girl cry gives you a kick, you have bigger problems than your complaint about your meal.
Remember that the employees can’t read your mind. If you order a small, then you will receive a small. In the incident last week, the man’s companion wanted a kid’s size item, but ordered a small instead. Your order taker only has your word to go by, he/she does not have a special sense to tell them when you misspeak. Also, if you want to tweak menu items, that’s perfectly acceptable. The menu at my favorite fast food restaurant is extremely tweakable. But again, the order taker doesn’t automatically know what you want. You must specify your desires.
Fact of life: if you don’t tell the order taker exactly what you want, you will not receive it.
Remember to hang up your cell phone. This is a personal pet peeve of mine and has nothing to do with the incident that provoked this post. It’s really hard for employees to serve customers when they feel like they’re being rude by interrupting your conversations. Hanging up your phone when you order or receive your food at the drive-thru window will increase order accuracy and completeness, speed of service, and the quality of your experience.
Remember restaurants are not required to let you abuse their employees. Franchise owners who value the safety and emotional wellbeing of their employees over profits from your business do exist. If they have to call the police on you, don’t be surprised if you are asked not to return.